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BUSINESS

Digitalizing B2B Commerce – Wholesale Will Never Be the Same Again 

Digitalizing B2B Commerce - Wholesale Will Never Be the Same Again  35

By Kristin Savilia, CEO, JOOR

To say that the emergence of COVID-19 two years ago resulted in a chain of unforeseeable consequences is putting it mildly — the world has changed and business will never be conducted in the same way again. Fortunately, the global fashion sector is two years smarter and more resilient than ever before.

When I joined JOOR, the world’s leading digital wholesale platform, as CEO in 2017, my mission was to help usher the B2B sector of the retail industry into the digital age. As a former buyer at Macy’s in the late 1990s, I was dismayed to see that 20 years later, brands and retailers were still conducting business the same way. While the B2C arena had seen tremendous advances with digital and interactive technology, the B2B side of the fashion wholesale industry was still relying on outdated practices. I became a strong advocate for digital transformation through my leadership role at JOOR, helping to grow the wholesale transaction volume seen on the platform to over $1.7B per month.

Today, JOOR hosts more than 13,300 brands and over 385,000 curated fashion retailers across 150 countries connecting on the platform every day. It is the exclusive platform for leading luxury conglomerates including LVMH, Kering, and Richemont, as well as esteemed brands such as Balenciaga, Valentino, and Saint Laurent. Plus, JOOR’s Retail Partner platform has partnerships with over 30 of the world’s leading global retailers, including Harrods, Neiman Marcus, Harvey Nichols, Printemps, Bergdorf Goodman, Shopbop, 24S.com, Revolve, FWRD, Liberty London, and Dover Street Market.

COVID-19 was a catalyst for much needed change within the wholesale industry. The switch to digital buying improved efficiencies for retail buying teams who were not only leaner in numbers but were also no longer able to travel. Working with JOOR not only provided these retailers with purchasing resilience through the pandemic, but also afforded the opportunity to process even greater order volumes from a much wider array of international fashion brands.

While we saw a dramatic increase in virtual buying and selling at the onset of the pandemic in early 2020, now there’s no turning back as brands and retailers recognize the increased efficiency and effectiveness of leveraging a digital platform. Engagement on JOOR has continued to increase throughout 2021 and 2022. As an example, last year 420,000 new connections were made between brands and retailers on JOOR. Rich content served to enhance the connection experience, with brands uploading almost 85% more images to JOOR in 2021 than they did in 2020. The number of retailers using JOOR rapidly increased — growing 37% from 2020 to 2021, with the majority of this growth driven by boutique establishments joining the platform.

Retailers are more active than ever on JOOR, particularly small and medium-sized businesses. As the pandemic recovery progressed, consumers globally have increasingly chosen to shop local, as reported by Deloitte and others. In 2021, the volume of wholesale transactions (GMV) passing through the JOOR platform increased by 54% over the prior year, averaging over $1.7bn per month. The number of orders placed on the platform increased 35% year over year, and the average order value (AOV) increased 59% over the prior year (2021 vs 2020).

In our most recent Spring 2022 Market Survey results, 97% of brands were planning to leverage virtual showrooms and 87% of retailers planned to conduct virtual buying in some capacity for the most recent AW22 selling season. With this adoption rate, JOOR has become the industry standard – creating a globally curated marketplace where brands and buyers have a single centralized location to connect. 

JOOR’s data also shows that the fashion sector’s economic recovery continued apace, with 61% of brands surveyed achieving a sales volume equal or better than before the pandemic, and half of buyers said they are back to having budgets that are equal or greater than the ones they had in 2019. 

Moreover, the flexibility enabled by online commerce has removed prior constraints of the selling season. The survey showed that 40% of brands extended their selling window to buyers to accommodate late season orders, and 50% of retailers planned to extend their buying season.

In order to maintain business continuity for our clients amidst pandemic shutdowns in 2020, we launched JOOR Passport. It digitalizes and centralizes the trade show experience, hosting numerous global fashion events on one digital platform. Recent partnerships include London Fashion Week, CFDA, Tokyo Fashion Awards, Showcase Japan (in partnership with the Japan External Trade Organization), UK in Fashion, Passport to Spain, and Taipei Fashion Week. These digital trade shows and fashion week events offer brands and designers global reach while also extending the buying window and opportunities. 

Looking forward, though in-person fashion tradeshows will return in force, we’re confident they will consistently offer a virtual component to appeal to globally distributed and environmentally conscious audiences. JOOR continues to support both in-person appointments via its iPad app and custom QR codes, as well as virtual selling via its desktop platform.

This year, we will look to build-out successful offerings including a new and improved JOOR Marketplace to facilitate enhanced product discovery and advanced financial service offerings via our embedded payment processing and financing capabilities. My team is working on creating this future through innovative and intuitive technology with many exciting announcements planned for this year. 

The future of wholesale has only just begun.

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